Things are starting to dry out around here. Starting to, mind you. Only starting. The floodwaters have yet to fully recede, and we could be in for more problems, as at some point the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to release a lot of water from the Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River, which could cause more flooding downstream. But if they don’t, they risk even more flooding on the western side of the dam, along with damage to the dam itself. If that one were to be breached, it would be a major catastrophe, so while the Corps of Engineers is being criticized for their actions, they’re doing the right thing. They are criticized no matter what they do when floods occur, as though this group of people can somehow prevent major natural disasters.
Right now we’re starting to see just how much damage the floods have caused to towns, cities, farms, and ranches. So far, the estimate is over $1.3 billion, though it could rise, especially if more flooding occurs later in the spring. As many, many farms were damaged or destroyed at a critical time of year, and a lot of livestock were killed or lost, I would not be surprised if food prices rise this summer and fall.
On a happier note, it’s finally warming up. The great Sandhill crane migration is happening along the Platte River, plants and trees are beginning to bloom, and we’re finally shaking off the long, long winter.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated from the Japanese by Phillip Gabriel
- Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote by Tina Cassidy
The Travelling Cat Chronicles fulfilled the last part of my 2019 Reading Plan for March (a work in translation). I had intended to read Iza’s Ballad by Magda Szabó, but The Travelling Cat Chronicles was sitting on my shelf, looking all cute and innocuous. Just like my own cat likes to do. And just like my own cat, this book was deceptively cute and cuddly. It’s about a cat named Nana and his human and their travels across Japan. The human, Saturo, is looking for a new home for Nana because of circumstances beyond his control, so we hear about the journey through Nana’s perspective, as well as seeing Saturo’s childhood from his friends’ perspectives. It is a charming, wonderful book that is incredibly emotional, and it was my second 5-star book of the year.
Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? is a fascinating book featuring dual biographies of Alice Paul, an ardent suffragist, and Woodrow Wilson, the racist and sexist president who delayed and delayed on acting on women’s suffrage until he had no other choice. Thanks to Alice Paul and her fellow suffragists and their willingness to suffer through arrest, mistreatment, harassment, and foul weather during their marches, American women have the right to vote. It’s an important story and reminds us why it is important for us to go and vote- because we really can change the course of the future if we make our voices heard.
What I am Currently Reading:
- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell #1) by Hillary Mantel, audiobook narrated by Simon Slater
Reading Through the Night by Jane Tompkins (ARC provided by NetGalley)
My progress through The Priory of the Orange Tree is a bit slower than I would like, mostly because I’ve been reading it before bed, and there have been a couple of nights where I fell asleep before I’d read more than a few pages. It’s going just fine, and I’m getting more interested in the characters and the world now that I’m oriented to the place. I’m often wondering if Queen Sabran of Inys was inspired by Queen Elizabeth I of England, as she reminds me more of Elizabeth I’s older sister, Queen Mary. So that’s a little distracting, but Ead’s perspective remains intriguing, especially as we hear more about the titular Priory. I’m also curious to see how the dragons of the Eastern nations differ from the dragons of the Western nations, as there seems to be quite a difference between them. I have about 600 pages left, so I’m assuming my questions will all be answered at some point.
Wolf Hall is proving to be even better than I hoped it would be. It is more of a fictionalized biography of Thomas Cromwell and often talks more about his family than it does about King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the tumultuous romance that nearly tore England apart. Given than Cromwell is often viewed as a villain, and Thomas More is usually portrayed as a goodly man of principle, the flip in perspective is really interesting to listen to. I have a feeling that I will be purchasing these books sometime soon. They will definitely be worth owning, given my interest in Tudor history.
Reading Through the Night is less of the memoir of a reading life that I was expecting, and more of a dissection of how certain books affected the author, Jane Tompkins, while she was suffering from a chronic illness. I’m about 30% of the way through, and so far it’s mostly been about V.S. Naipaul, Paul Theroux, and a few of their books. It’s not what I was expecting, and I’m struggling a bit, as I’ve never read anything by Naipaul or Theroux, and so I have no knowledge of their books. I will give Reading Through the Night a little more time to see if Tompkins moves into more familiar territory, but it’s not been a very interesting book so far.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World by M.R. O’Connor (ARC provided by NetGalley)
- The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
- A Prisoner in Malta by Phillip DePoy
I’m still figuring out my reading plan for April, but one of my translated works will be The Flanders Panel, a mystery by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, which has been on my shelf since last autumn. I’m in the mood for mysteries so it and A Prisoner in Malta will scratch that itch. Plus, A Prisoner in Malta is set in the Elizabethan era and features Christopher Marlowe, playwright and probable spy for Her Majesty’s government.
We’re entering the last stretch of the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. In episode 211, ‘Perpetual Infinity’, we discover the identity of the Red Angel, along with how and why they’ve been traveling through time. We see exactly why the AI, Control, wants the library of information the Discovery downloaded from the ancient sphere complex back at the beginning of the season. It’s great to see how these elements have all come back around. And there are still mysteries to solve: for example, where did the seven signals we saw in the season premiere. The characters are all still developing wonderfully, and there are plenty of fantastic lines that really make the episodes pop. For example:
Pike: In other words, we’re playing tug of war with the universe?
Saru: Eventually, we will lose.
Pike: How long until the universe wins?
I just love the writing for this season! I also love Keith R.A. DeCandido’s reviews of each episode, which are witty, point out the flaws and highlights of each episode, and put them into the context of the larger Star Trek universe. They’re so much fun to read, and are way more interesting and informative than reviews from other outlets, where I really wonder if their writers actually like anything at all.
My Lord of the Rings Reread Project is nearing its end. Because March 25th was Tolkien Reading Day, I posted my entry for the chapter, ‘Mount Doom’, which features the downfall of Sauron and the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth. Yesterday I posted the next entry in the series, ‘A Whole New World’, which is about Aragorn’s coronation, Eowyn and Faramir’s budding relationship, and how Middle-earth will change now that Sauron has been defeated.
That’s all for now. I have a busy day of book stuff, booking hotels and whatnot for my trip to Iceland, and going for a long walk in what is supposed to be a beautiful afternoon.